By CARL GREEN
Collinsville – Dale Stewart has seen the building trades workers of the Metro East through good times and bad, busts and booms, and political ups and downs since he became executive secretary-treasurer of the Southwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council in 2005.
What’s more, he’s actually been on the council for 44 years, since becoming the Teamsters Local 525 delegate in 1974.
So things are going to look very different starting at the end of May – when Stewart retires.
Stewart startled the Council members by announcing his plans at the end of their April 12 meeting at the regular setting, IBEW Local 309’s spacious hall.
“I’ve enjoyed the ride,” he said. “I love this job, but I’m going to be 68 years old. My term’s up, so I just think now’s the right time to turn it over and hope somebody else can keep this place going.”
As executive of the Council, Stewart represents the Metro East trades unions in talks with contractors, companies and governmental units. He can get a big project staffed and running with just the right set of workers in a short time and help a political campaign get off the ground.
He’s not unhappy with the work. “I don’t think there’s been a time I haven’t enjoyed just getting up and going to do this job,” he said. “I wanted to do this job, and I took it on, but the fact is I took a lot of pride in doing it. I love the people I’ve met and worked with and helped, and I don’t have any regrets at all.
“Well, I have one,” he quickly added. “I had a chance to get this job in 1994, and I didn’t take it then. I wish I would have done it then; I would have had more time to do it. It’s been a great thing.”
TIME TO STEP UP
Stewart now is looking for trades leaders in the Metro East to consider stepping up and taking the reins.
“Whoever wants to be that person, I’m going to be there to help them, but they’ve got to remember it’s going to be a tough job,” he said. “Promoting economic development for this region is what we do here, and we’ve got to keep it going.
“We’ve got a lot of good people here who can take over and keep this thing going, and I’m willing to help out all I can.”
Totsie Bailey, business manager of Steamfitters Local 439 and president of the Council’s executive board, spoke for the members.
“The only thing I can say is we all hate to see you go, Dale,” Bailey said. “You set the bar so high, it’s unreal. I don’t want to get mushy, but we all love you.”
While the members gave a standing ovation, Stewart grinned and replied, “Don’t kiss me, OK?